Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

proclamation of his individual approval, committed the Ministry of which he was one to a recognition of
the de facto Monarch of France. This step was but the last of many instances in which Palmerston

had acted without due reference to the premier's or the Sovereign's opinion - a course of conduct which

had justly displeased the Queen, and had drawn from her grave and pointed remonstrances. The final

transgression led to his resignation; but its effects on our relations with France remained.

Meanwhile the Emperor's consistent and probably sincere display of goodwill towards England, the
apparent complacency with which the French nation acquiesced in his rule, and the outward prosperity

accompanying it, did their natural work in conciliating approval, and in making men willing to forget the

obscure and tortuous steps by which he had climbed to power. One day he and France were to pay for

these things; but meanwhile he was a popular ruler, accepted and approved by the nation he governed,

anxious for its prosperity, and earnest in keeping it friendly with Great Britain, which he had found a

hospitable home in the days of his obscurity, which was again to offer an asylum to him in a day of utter

disaster and overthrow, and where his life, chequered by vicissitudes stranger than any known to

romance, was to come to a quiet close. It has been the singular fortune of Her Majesty to receive into the

sacred shelter of her realm two dethroned monarchs, two fallen fortunes, two dynasties cast out from

sovereign power, while her own throne, "broad-based upon her people's will, and compassed by the

inviolate sea," has stood firm and unshaken, even by a breath. And it has been her special honour to

cherish with affection, even warmer in their adversity, the friends who had gained her regard when their

prosperity seemed as bright and their great position as assured as her own. Visiting the Emperor

Napoleon in his splendid capital, feted and welcomed by him and his Empress with every flattering form

of honour that his ingenuity could devise or his power enable him to show, she did not forget the Orleans

family and their calamities, but frankly urged on her host the injustice of the confiscations with which he

had requited the supposed hostility of those princes, and endeavoured to persuade him to milder

measures. She visited in his company the tomb of the lamented Duke of Orleans; and her first care on

returning to England was to show some kindly attention to the discrowned royalties who were now her

guests. In the same spirit, in after years, she extended a friendly hand to the exiled Empress Eugenie,

escaping from new revolutionary perils to English safety, and altogether declined to consider her

personal regard for the lady, whose attractions had deservedly gained it in brighter days, as being in any

sense complicated with matters political. The resolute loyalty with which she at once maintained her

private friendships and kept them entirely apart from her public action compelled toleration from the

persons most inclined to take umbrage at it.

An instance of successful and courageous enterprise on Her Majesty's part may well close this brief
notice of the internal and external convulsions which for a time shook, though they did not shatter, the

peace of our realm. In the late summer of 1849 a royal visit to Ireland, now just reviving from its misery,

was planned and carried out with complete success; the wild Irish enthusiasm blazed up into raptures of a

loyal welcome, and the Sovereign, who played her part with all the graceful perfection that her

compassionate heart and quick intelligence suggested, was delighted with the little tour, from which

those who shared in it prophesied "permanent good" for Ireland. At least it had a healing, beneficial

effect at the moment; and perhaps more could not have been reasonably hoped. Later royal visits to the

sister isle have been less conspicuous, but all fairly successful.

 

CHAPTER IV. THE CRIMEAN WAR.

The "Exhibition year," 1851, appears to our backward gaze almost like a short day of splendid summer
interposed between two stormy seasons; but at the time men were more inclined to regard it as the first of

 

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